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Kargil to be a major Indian Air Force base

Kargil to be a major Indian Air Force base

Learning lessons from the 1999 war with Pakistan, India is all set to develop the Kargil airfield as a full-fledged transport base by 2016, by when the Indian Air Force (IAF) aims to operate both medium and heavy-lift planes from there.

It also plans to operate combat aircraft from Kargil sometime in the future.

The IAF chief, Air Chief Marshal Norman Anil Kumar Browne, said at the annual press conference on Monday ahead of the Air Force Day on October 8 that the IAF will expand the 6,000-foot runway in Kargil to enable operations of all major transport aircraft such as the Soviet-origin IL-76 heavy-lift planes, the newly-ordered C-17 heavy-lift aircraft from the US, and the just-acquired C-130J Super Hercules.

Soviet-origin medium-lift AN-32 transport planes are already being operated from the Kargil airfield, in the northern part of Jammu and Kashmir, since the 1999 war with Pakistan.

Kargil was the primary theatre of battle during that conflict when Indian troops forced a retreat of Pakistani regulars who had clandestinely occupied heights that were vacated by India during winter.

The Jammu and Kashmir government had activated the airfield in 1996 for civilian aircraft operations and it was under the Airports Authority of India (AAI) till the Kargil war, when the military operations began there.

Since then, the IAF has been operating the AN-32s from the airfield, apart from the Jammu and Kashmir government using it for operating tourist flights.

The IAF chief said as plans for Kargil base progressed, they would like to operate fighter jets from the air field there, "but that is still a distance away".

Browne said IAF was also planning to develop the Nyoma air base close to the border with China in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir into a fighter base and the plans had been approved by Defence Minister AK Antony.

"The Nyoma plans will soon go to the Cabinet Committee on Security for final approval,"
he added.

The development of these air bases are part of the IAF's plans for developing its infrastructure in northern and northeastern India.

Nyoma already has a 12,000-foot runway and the air base is at an altitude of 13,300 fleet.

The IAF is at present operating AN-32s from Nyoma, apart from helicopters.

"We want to develop Nyoma into a base from where we can carry out fighter, transport and helicopter operations. Once the facilities come up, we can do a fair amount of defensive and offensive operations from there,"
Browne added.

New Delhi - Monday, October 03, 2011 - IANS -

Photo Story: For the first time ever, the Indian Air Force landed an AN-32 transport aircraft at the Nyoma Advanced Landing Ground in eastern Ladakh, just 23 km from the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. The touchdown by the medium lift transport aircraft signifies India’s capability to move its troops quickly to the forward areas, whenever required. The IAF move comes in the wake of reports of recent Chinese intrusions into the Indian side of the LAC, including airspace violations by their helicopters and painting Mandarin letters on rocks in red. The AN-32 aircraft, flown by Shaurya Chakra awardee Group Captain S C Chafekar and carrying Western Air Command (WAC) chief Air Marshal N A K Browne and Northern Army Commander Lt Gen P C Bhardwarj, landed at Nyoma at 0625 hours, WAC spokesperson Flt Lt Priya Joshi said in New Delhi.

Nyoma ALG is situated at an altitude of 13,300 feet above sea level and is the third such ALG opened by IAF in the Ladakh region of Jammu and Kashmir in the last two years. The ALGs opened earlier were Daulat Beg Oldi, the world’s highest airfield at 16,200 feet, in May last year and Fuk Che in November that year. The IAF had, before this AN-32 landing, used Nyoma airstrip only for helicopter operations. Only recently, the IAF took up work to convert it into an ALG for transport fixed-wing aircraft operations by laying a compacted airstrip, IAF officials said. “After deliberating on all aspects and carrying out aerial and ground reccees, it was concluded that Nyoma could be developed for fixed wing operations as well,” Joshi said. An Engineer Regiment of the Army’s 14 Corps executed the task of developing the ALG to standards required for fixed wing operations.

“The successful landing of a fixed wing aircraft at Nyoma marks the culmination of joint effort by the IAF and Army to enable the IAF to operate in the inhospitable terrain of Leh-Ladakh region in support of the Army,”
she said. “The joint development of Nyoma, braving the extremely difficult working conditions and hostile weather, is yet another step towards enhanced jointmanship between the two services,” she added. Joshi said Nyoma was developed with an aim to connect the remote areas of Ladakh region to the mainland. “This would also ensure that movements in the area continue when the road traffic gets affected, during the harsh winters besides enabling improved communication network in the region, facilitating economical ferrying of supplies as well as promotion of tourism to the general area,” she added.


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